Sasol 'profits from pollution' - Earthlife

2014-09-12 06:33
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Cape Town – Environmental NGO Earthlife Africa has criticised Sasol’s recent profit report calling it ‘profits from pollution’.

“South Africa is bearing the pollution cost of Sasol’s activity which enables higher profits, but which is not invested in SA but overseas,” Earthlife Africa’s project co-ordinator, Tristen Taylor, told News24.

Sasol chief financial officer, Paul Victor, reported that an operating profit of R41.7bn was up by 7% from 2013 at an announcement of the company’s financial results on Monday.

According to Taylor Sasol’s profits are better explained in terms of ‘profits from pollution’ than increased production.

Sasol’s Integrated report for 2013 showed that absolute carbon dioxide emissions for its South African energy operation rose from 45.8 in 2012 to 49.4 million tons in 2013.

In the company’s Sustainable Development report it shows that Sasol emitted more greenhouse gases per ton of fuel it produced in 2013 than it did in 2012. And atmospheric pollutants including nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide, and particulates (fly ash) also increased.

‘Grave consequences’

Doctoral student of energy policy at the UCT Energy Research Centre, Jesse Burton, says Sasol’s increased emissions is relevant because the regulatory system for liquid fuels guarantees Sasol very large profits, yet they claim they cannot afford to meet environmental legislation.

“They have increased their profit again in 2014, but without reducing their environmental impact on air quality and climate change,” Burton told News24.

In response to Earthlife’s allegations Sasol spokesperson, Alex Anderson, says the company is committed to limiting the environmental impacts of its operations at its existing facilities.

“We have invested approximately R2bn a year over the past decade on projects delivering significant air quality and other environmental improvements at our facilities,” he told News24.

In a recent media release Earthlife strongly criticised Sasol for taking the National Department of Environmental Affairs to court to avoid compliance with stricter air pollution controls.

The ‘Minimum Emissions Standards’ for existing plants, which is set to kick in on 1 April 2015, will control the amounts of pollutants which the industry releases.

According to Anderson Sasol will only be able to comply with 70% of the new Minimum Emissions Standards.

“For certain of the standards, Sasol has identified compliance challenges in the long-term, where presently available technologies cannot feasibly be implemented, for technical, operational, environmental and financial reasons, and which would furthermore not materially improve air quality,” he said.

Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa, Dominique Doyle, said in a media statement that Sasol is attempting to erode South Africa’s already young and weak environmental policy to a point of no return.

“The court action will effectively allow for all other polluters to follow suit, with grave consequences for the constitutional right of people to live in a clean and safe environment,” he said.

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Read more on:    earthlife africa  |  sasol  |  cape town  |  energy  |  environment  |  pollution

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